Facebook suspends fake Russian accounts, warns of US election threat

Facebook, the US tech giant has suspended fake Russian accounts ahead of US elections.

The company in a statement on Thursday said that the accounts have been suspended for using fake identities and other types of “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”, that were linked to Russian intelligence and people associated with a St Petersburg-based organisation accused by US officials of working to affect the 2016 presidential vote.

According to Facebook, it has dismantled three networks of fake accounts that could be used by Russia’s intelligence services to leak hacked documents as part of efforts to disrupt the upcoming US election.

Facebook announced the networks were small with only a handful of accounts on its website and photo-sharing service Instagram, and a combined total of approximately 97,000 followers.

Furthermore, Twitter said that it had worked with Facebook to identify and remove 350 accounts that were operated by state-linked organisations in Russia.

Read More: Facebook faces trouble after it allegedly ignored hate speech in India

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said there was no immediate confirmation that hacked documents were about to be leaked, but by suspending the accounts, Facebook hoped to prevent them from being used in any subsequent operation.

“Our team watches for the threats and trends that we need to be ready for and one that we are very aware of, is a hack-and-leak operation, particularly in the next 6-8 weeks,” he told Reuters News Agency.

“We want to make sure that the accounts are down to prevent their ability to pivot them to facilitate a hack-and-leak around the US election.”

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As being reported, Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, worked in coordination with Facebook to analyze the suspended accounts. 

According to him, the activity from the accounts showed Russia was continuing efforts to exacerbate political tensions in the United States and elsewhere.

“That doesn’t dismiss the fact that the scale and scope of domestic disinformation is far greater than what any foreign adversary could do,” Graham Brookie said. “But Russia’s efforts remain an extremely serious national security vulnerability.”

Saman Siddiqui

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